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Peter Wise Good writing
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How to tell without even looking at it if a website has been well thought out


Next time you search for something on Google, have a closer look at the results before clicking on one of them.

The regular Google listings will show a short headline, followed by a link, followed by a couple of lines of copy. The pic below shows what the listing for the home page of my site looks like.



The short headline is actually what’s called the title tag. It should be specially written for the search engines for two reasons. One, because Google and co pay attention to what’s in it and will use it help them decide where to rank your site for certain searches. Secondly, because it’s like a mini ad for your site for the person looking at the results.

Google will only show the first 66 characters, so if that little headline looks like it’s been cut off in its prime and ends with an ellipsis (dot dot dot) it’s because whoever wrote it made it too long. Or because they never wrote a title tag in the first place. In which case Google will have just taken the first thing they see on the webpage and used that instead.

The two lines of copy underneath are what’s called the page description tag. This is like body copy for your little ad in the results. Google only display the first 160 characters or so. So again, if it looks too short, too long, disjointed or irrelevant, it’s because Google have taken the next bit of copy they can find (after the bit they took for the title tag) and used that instead.

So, if what you see in the results looks incomplete, random or out of place, then you can be pretty sure that the site concerned is not too worried about search engines. Which, depending on what you’re after, may or may not bother you. But it should bother whoever owns that site.


For further details about best practice in writing for the web, please see this property company case study and also this B2B website case study , plus my main website copywriting page


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